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Models Lament Low Pay And Sexual Assault In Nigerian Fashion Industry

by Adeoya Femi

A documentary has spotlighted the harsh realities of underpayment, shortchanging, and sexual harassment models deal with in Nigeria’s fashion industry.

Developed by Nxtgen, the documentary featured agents, ex-beauty queens, agency owners, and designers who gave insight into how the industry works.

Queen Onyemaechi, CEO of Anani Models, said there is a misconception about the profession where models are likened to sex workers
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She said: “I’ve had situations where my older sister said, ‘you’re going into prostitution. Why not go to school, learn a skill. She was trying to change my mind but I knew what I was going for. I started modeling and it changed my life.”

Harisson Akadidi of H&M Modeling said: “We have situations where agents want to pimp models for sex, mainly females. We have where agents who are supposed to act in the interest of the models develop lust.

“Lot of models are from very poor homes. They need finance at a level you can’t even imagine; like anything is survival for them. You tell them certain things over and over again and they trust you and your judgment.”

Commenting on the issue of body shaming and inappropriate advances, Ugochi Ihezue, a female model, narrated how an agent sought a hotel meet-up after rejecting her in the casting process for a show.

She said: “The modeling industry is a superficial industry if I’m using the right word. You get your body criticized. You hear things like, ‘your thighs are too big, your bum is too big, your bum is too small. Your boobs are too big’.

“People look at you and there’s always something to fix on your body. I had a couple of castings I went for and I wasn’t really picked but the manager was calling me and making advances. ‘Can you meet me up in a hotel?’

“I told him I wasn’t picked and he insisted, saying he was going to do something about it. I didn’t go because there was no point to it if what he wanted to do was not done at the casting location.”

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